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ABC's Of Rome

An ABC Description on different people and aspects of Rome and the Roman Empire.
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Cassie Wimmer

on 3 March 2014

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Transcript of ABC's Of Rome

ABC's Of Rome: The People And Ideas
A: The Arts
Art was a very well respected aspect of Roman culture, much of the styles and methods used can be traced back to Greek culture. Some of the main types of art that were used in the Roman culture included architecture and sculpture.
Roman architecture is very well known. These builders and designers were some of the first to use structures like the arch and the dome in their buildings. In the first century they also developed and used concrete which was very strong and allowed them to make structures like domes and allowed them to make these structures on very large scales as concrete could support much more weight.
Looking at Roman sculpture, it was seen all over the cities of Rome. Portayals of gods, emperors, and generals decorated the cities. Romans used a form of realism that was not previously known to the Greeks and demonstrated great skills of the sculptor

B: Barbarians
After the rule of Marcus Aurelius, his son Commodus succeeded him as emperor of Rome. From here on out, the Roman Empire began to fall. Among the many reasons for the fall of Rome was Barbarians.
Barbarians were the cause of the third stage of Rome’s decline. Different groups of barbarians destroyed Rome. These Barbarians constantly fought both against Rome and themselves. Rome was sacked by a group of these barbarian people known as the Visigoths (also discussed later), and eventually another group of Barbarians attacked Rome and sent its emperor, Romulus Agustulus, into exile. The Western half of the Roman Empire then disappeared.

C: Constantine
In A.D. 64, the first persecution of the Christians occured under the Emperor Nero. Christians at this time were many times forced to either accept the Roman Gods or be executed. People of the Christain religion often suffered for their faith for many years. Then, in A.D. 311, a civil war broke out for power in the Roman Empire. One of these people competing for power was a man called Constantine.
When this commander was preparing for battle, he prayed for help. He then experienced what he saw as a sign he would conquer. The following day, he had the Christian symbol put on his soldiers sheilds. He dominated the battle and won power of the Western half of the Empire and acredited his victory to the Christian God. Within the next year he anounced to the empire to end the persecution of the Christians.
Constantine had accepted the Christians and converted the Roman Empire to Christianity. Without Constantine's acceptance of this faith, the religion may not have survived through history let alone thrived to become what it is today.
D: Diocletian
In A.D. 284, while Rome was in the process of slowly declining, a new emperor by the name of Diocleian took the reigns. He was faced with many challenges as he tried to restore the Roman Empire. He enstated many administrative, military, and economic reforms in an attempt to pull Rome out of the hole it was digging itself into. One of his reforms included dividing th Empire in half, with one emperor ruling each half. Then each emperor was to choose an "assistant ruler" who would then succeed him (Diocletian hoped this would solve the succession problem). To help protect the empire, he doubled the size of the army to 500,000 soldiers. In efforts to restore faith in the emperor, he glorified himself and the position of the emperor. He also faced economic issues as well, one of which was inflation. Diocletian tried to beat inflation by fixing the prices of everything. Then he ordered that all sons had to follow the trade of their fathers to help build economic stability.

E: Epicurus
In the Roman Empire, Greek culture was extended, including in the area of philosophy. Roman religion had lost its meaning for many Romans until Epicurus taught his ideas. One of his mean teachings was that there was no life after death. Also he believed that all of one's actions were to in some way gain pleasure for oneself. He argued that this could be done by avoiding excesses and banish of the Gods and death. His ideas proved popular and continued for many years after his death.
F: Family*
Romans greatly valued the family in society. Typically the head of the family was the eldest man known as the "pater familias," he had complete control over the family. He controlled the property. He was the "protector" of the family and even spoke on behalf of them in public assemblies. Although the man of the house had most executive powers, the woman was charged with the duties of running the household, and still had more freedoms than women in Athens did. This woman was still considered a citizen with the right to own property and testify in court. Even though the man was to make the decisions, the woman could still advise him and speak her mind to him. They did, however, lack the right to vote. As for the children in the house, their lives depended on if the father accepted them as a newborn or not. A man could even divorce his wife if she did not give birth to a boy. Many of the young girls were usually married off by the age of 14. These marriages were arranged between families.

G: Greeks
The Greeks had a great influence on Roman culture in aspects from architecture to philosophy. The Romans greatly admired the Greek culture although they still felt superior in their ability to rule. As the Empire grew, they kept borrowing from the Greeks. One of the biggest influences the Greeks had on the Romans was in the arts feild. Greek art styles and works were heavily valued in Roman cities. Greeks also provided architecture, systems of government, and the religion of Rome.
H: Hadrian
Emperor Hadrian was known as one of the five good emperors. One of his major contributions to Rome was his many building projects, including establishing a postal service. He also was known for traveling the empire all the time and being incredibly generous. He was constantly giving to the community and individuals in need.
He also instated many reforms including one that stated that a slaveowner cannot kill their slaves. Hadrian also edited a law to be, that if a slaveowner is killed, only the slaves nearby can be tortured for information. The ones that were not nearby had to be left alone.
Some of his other reforms included separating the baths to women's and men's sections, he restored many buildings including the pantheon (a unique building with a new dome structure), during his travels, he instated public works programs in the cities he traveled to.
When Hadrian finally died, he had a lingering illness that made him want to committ suicide. But, he could not find anyone to help him, so he excessively ate and drank until he died.
I: Inflation
Inflation is defined as:
The rate at which the general level of prices for goods and services is rising, and, subsequently, purchasing power is falling.
During the economic decay of the Roman Empire, inflation was a large problem. Desparate to pay off its growing debts, the goverment starting making coins with depleating amounts of silver. At one point, Roman coins only contained .02% silver, this in return caused prices to skyrocket, which greatly hurt the Roman people.
J: Julius Caesar
One of the most famous politicains and generals that impacted the Roman Empire was Julius Caesar. Highly fluent in the language of money and politics he was loved throughout the Empire. He charmed crowds, won over numerous members of the senate and would eventually become dictator of Rome, and would take the position for life. This was unusual due to the fact that dictators of Rome were usually regarded as temporary.

As a powerful politician, Caesar joined forces with Crassus the Rich, who invested in Caesar's political career. Later on, in 60 B.C. Caesar and Crassus teamed up with Pompey, a general who was popular amongst Rome. The three then agreed to support each other's political careers. With the support of his allies, Caesar was elected consul in 59 B.C. For the next decade to follow, Caesar, Crassus, and Pompey ruled as Rome's triumvirate.

K: Kings
There was seven kings of Rome that spaned a period of about 200 years. The first of the seven being Romulus, the one who had mythically founded Rome with his twin brother, Remus, but killed him to take over Rome. The next six kings of Rome included Numa Pompilius, Tullius Hositilius, Ancus Marcius, Tarquinius Priscus, Servius Tullius, and Tarquinius Superbus.
All of these kings at one point expanded the borders of Rome, a practice that would continue for many years to come.
Rome then later tried to rid itself of kings and try different types of government which eventually led to the Roman republic.
L: Law
A written law code was first established by the patricians in 451 B.C. The first written laws were known as the Twelve Tables. The laws were written on twelve stone tablets and hung in the Forum and were the foundation for later Roman law.
Later Roman law recognized all people to have protection under the law and not just Roman citizens. Some of the primary ideas of the laws included protecting people from being judged guilty without first examining the facts of the case. Anyone accused of a crime had the right to face their accuser and defend themselves in front of a judge. If there was a doubt about the accused person's guilt, the person should be judged innocent. Any law that seemed unfair could be set aside.
Even after Rome fell into the hands of the barbarians, these laws stuck. Some of these legal principles are still used today.
M: Marcus Aurelius
In 161, during the Pax Romana, Aurelius rose to power after his adoptive father Antonius. He shared many of his duties and ruled jointly with his brother, Lucius Aurelius Verus Augustus (Verus.) Rome was then tested by disease and war. Rome fought with Parthians for territory in the east. The soldiers that retuned home from battle often carried deadly disases and eventually wiped out a large portion of the Roman population. (At one point 2,000 people were killed in one day by this disease, which may have been the plague.) After the war with the Parthians, Aurelius and his brother faced German tribes that crossed the Danube River and attacked a Roman city. When Verus died in 169, Aurelius pushed on to rid Rome of these viscious Germanic tribes.
Later on, as news spread of Aurelius's illness, a man by the name of Avidius Cassius attempted to name himself emperor. Cassius was later murdered by his own soldiers, leaving little conflict for Aurelius.
Aurelius named his son, Commodus, his co-ruler in the year 177, together they fought battles to the north and they were hoping to expand the Empire's borders through this conflict, but Aurelius died in March of 180, leaving Commodus to rule.
After the death of Aurelius, Rome's golden age came to a close.
N: Nero
Nero rose to power due to the ruthlessness of his mother. His mother had killed Nero's brother and his son, to ensure Nero's rule. He took the role of emperor at the age of 16 and was devoted to the arts. Although, later in his reign, he began to abuse his power. Relations with his own mother became "frosty" and he attempted to kill her himself, but did not finish the job and had others do so. He then began to show serious signs of unhealthy mental behavior. Stories went around how he walked about seducing married women and even young boys. He supposedly even "married" a male slave. It was said that he walked the streets murdering innocent people.
The Great Fire of Rome hit and destroyed or damaged 10 of 14 districts in Rome and it was said that even though Nero offered shelter for the homeless, that he sang while Rome burned.
After a small conspiracy attempt towards Nero, a failed one at that, Nero doubled his guard and had large numbers of people killed that he feared were conspiring.
Eventually Rome was done with Nero and the Senate declared him a public enemy and anyone could kill him without punishment. Nero fled to the country where he later committed suicide .
He left Rome without a leader, and therefore allowed powerful generals to battle for the title.
O: Octavian
Octavian, who would eventually take the name Augustus from the Senate, was Juluis Caesar's grandnephew and adopted son. Octavian served under Julius Caesar in a couple of expeditions in 46 and 44 B.C. Octavian joined forces with Mark Antony, Caesar's "trusted comrade," and a powerful politican, Lepidus. Together, they ruled as Rome's second triumvirate. Avenging Caesar's death was a main task for these three. They had a lenghty blacklist to be carried out that consisted of 100 senators and 2,000 businessmen.
Another civil war then broke out between Antony and Octavian (Lepidus was already defeated by Octavian and forced into retirement). Antony fought along with the forces of Cleopatra, which were defeated by Octavian's navy. Antony and Cleopatra later committed suicide, letting Octavian take Egypt as a Roman province.
Just like Julius Caesar had, Octavian had won command of the Empire. But, unlike Caesar, he was more modest with his rule and only took the title of "first citizen," later on the Senate would give him the name Augustus meaning "exalted one".
Augustus held most powers of the Empire, leaving the Senate with almost zero authority. Although the Senators knew this, they played along hoping to get a position of power in the provinces.
Augustus ruled as "first citizen" for 41 years and began the period of peace and prosperity known as the Pax Romana.
P: The Praetorian Guard
The Praetorian Guard were basically the ancient Roman version of today's secret service. These guards were charged with the duties of protecting the emperor. At times they would also act as the policing force in the area in the name of the emperor. The Praetorian Guard included 9,000 men that were stationed in Rome in assisstance of the emperor.
The establishment of the Guard as a recognized military group began during Augustus's rule. Eventually they won themselves enough power to influence the successor to the emperor.
Constantine later disbanded the Praetorian Guard as a military unit in 313 making it a civil office dealing with the divisions of the empire.
Q: Queen Cleopatra
Cleopatra was the Queen of Egypt during the time of the Roman Empire. In 48 B.C. Julius Caesar went to Egypt and met Cleopatra and they had a son by the name of Caesarion. In 45 B.C. Caesar and Cleopatra left Alexandria and went to Rome. In the following year, Caesar was murdered by the conspirators.
Later on, when Mark Antony took to Egypt during the civil war between Antony and Octavian, Antony fell in love with Cleopatra and Antony announced his divorce to Octavia (Octavian's sister) and his marriage to Cleopatra. She gave birth to two more children fathered by Antony.
The people of Rome feared the Queen of Egypt was attemping to take the prized throne of Roman Empire.
During the civil war, Octavian's forces defeated Cleopatra and Antony's and the couple then committed suicide.
R: Romulus Augustulus
Romulus Augustulus was the last Roman Emperor of the west. He was very young at the time he was crowned, supposedly 10-14 years of age. His throne was taken by a barabarian general by the name of Odoacer. He was not assissinated, but rather sent into exile by Odoacer, most likely with a large sum of weath. This was dated as the fall of Rome. From this point of, no emperor even pretended to rule Rome and its provinces. The power of Rome (in the western half) ceased to exist after the rule of Romulus Augustulus. As for the eastern half, emperors ruled over what was then known as the Byzantine Empire for another 1,000 years as it thrived on.
S: Senate
It was said that the first Senate was created when Romulus named 100 patiricains to advise him and later on the number of people allowed in the Senate increased and diversified to allow plebians as well.
The Senate was one of the three "parts" of the Roman governement including also the two consuls and the assembly. The Roman Senate was fairly familiar to today's democratic Senate. Those in the Senate were elected officials who had distinguished themselves politically.
When one was a Senator, the position was for life. This was believed to provide stability in the government due to the fact that consuls' terms were only a year long.
The Senate was responisble for the Treasury, legislation, and Roman policies. The main duty of the Senate was to ensure that Rome "thrives in all her non-military aspects."
U: Undertaker
Undertakers in Rome were responsible for planning their client's funeral. This position although it paid fairly well, was considered one of a low rank to society. People did not look forward to seeing the undertaker.
When hired, the undertaker had to provide human resources (slaves) to complete the work that needed to be done as well as finding the appropriate professionals to prepare the body or cremate it.
T: Trajan
Trajan ruled from A.D. 98 to 117, and was the first emperor to be from anywhere else but Italy. The empire reached its greatest extent under Trajan's rule. His rule consisted of many public reforms many of which were targeted at poor children. Some of his other public works programs included renovating the roads and building bridges where needed.
Emperor Trajan was a drinker and seemed to love war simply because he was good at it. He had alsways been a famous general and was constantly at war, for most of his reign it seemed. Most of his battled were fought in the name of expanding the Empire.
After he died of paralysis as a result of a stroke, he was long known as the near perfect emperor. Later emperors would use Trajan as an example to go by when leading the empire.
V: Visigoths
The Visigoths were a Germanic tribe that came from north of Rome. Due to conflicts with other Germanic tribes in the north, the Visigoths were forced off their own land. They appealed to the Roman Emperor for a place to settle, and they were given a section of land just south of the Danube. Due to mis-treatment by the Roman province governors, the Visigoths were not happy. In 410 A.D. the Visigoth king, Alaric led his forces to Rome and a traitor let them in the gates and they sacked Rome for three days.
W: Women of Rome
Women in Rome were particularly defined by the men in their lives and were valued as wives and mothers. Women in Rome were not allowed to partake in politics, nor were they allowed to learn to write. Women were under the authority of their father before marraige and their husbands after marriage. They did not have any legal rights over their children (that was left to the father).
If a woman married and had gone under her husband's control did have the right to manage her own finances and own property as well.
In the workplace, women did enjoy some freedoms (dependent on their financial status) as they could own businesses, or work in positions such as a doctor or hairdresser. On the otherhand, female slaves were also very common. Some women even became gladiators.
Women had no political power, although, they did have influence. Their husbands or other men they were close to sometimes would listen to the women when they proved to have significant knowledge or insight on the issue at hand.

X: X-ing The Danube
The crossings of the Danube river is one of the main reasons the Roman Empire fell, Germanic tribes coming from the North were constantly a problem for Romans. The Visigoths, Vandals, and the Huns were three major tribes to cross the river and plunder their way through Rome. Eventually Rome was in the hands of several separate tribes that battled for power in the Western half of the Empire. The Huns even threatened to take over the entire empire. Many of the other tribes settled for conquering a couple provinces.
The last emperor of Rome was exiled by a Germanic general during this period.
Y: Y The Roman Empire Fell
The Roman Empire (the western half anyway) fell for many reasons still under debate but the most accepted aspects that can take the blame include the barbarians, economic instability, political instability, and loss of traditional Roman morals. The barbarians had begun to migrate through Rome and eventually delivered the final blows to the empire. Economic issues such as inflation and an "overreliance on slave labor" also had a huge hand in preventing Rome from providing appropriate amounts of finances when needed and widened the gap between the rich and poor.
Political issues were mainly caused by a corrupted government system (conspirators and traitors) as well as a string of "incompetent emperors". Another factor for the political unrest in the empire was the fact that the empire had grown too large to govern effectively (this had also applied in the defense aspect of the fall of Rome).
With the growing number of Christians in the empire, the people began to lose the traditional Roman values that had grown the empire to what it was.

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Janzten, Steven L., Krieger, Larry S., Neill, Kenneth. "World History: Perpectives on the Past". Lexington, Massachusetts: D.C. Heath and Company. 1990. Print. (Text Book)

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Following the traditions, Caesar served as a consul for just one year and then gave himself the position of governing the Roman Province of Gaul. In Gaul, Caesar and his armies battled outward against many Germanic tribes. Caesar proved himself a worthy leader by fighting along side his troops and shared in the hardships that his troops also had to go through in battle.
Back in Rome, the people recognized his true power as the poor people fell in love with him even more and the Senators began to fear for their power. Once Caesar had returned from Gaul, the triumvirate had split up Crassus was dead and Pompey had become Caesar's rival.
Civil war broke out between Caesar and Pompey, Pompey barely escaped and was later murdered in Egypt. When Caesar returned to Rome, he commended his faithful forces and with the approval of the Senate, appointed himself dictator for 10 years.
Once Caesar had won popularity, he used it to make much needed reforms such as relieving debts, enlarging the Senate, building the Forum Iulium, and revising the calendar.
Some of the Senators began to fear for the good of Rome and began to conspire against Caesar. The lead conspirators, Cassius and Brutus would become successful in assassinating one of the great rulers of Rome. On the Ides of March 44B.C., Caesar would meet his demise. After Caesar's death, civil war broke out again and Octavian rose up and ruled as the first emperor.
Z: Zeno
Zeno was a Greek philosopher that developed the highly influential ideals known as stoicism. These beliefs were very popular in Rome because they supported traditional Roman values of virtue, duty, and endurance. Zeno preached that the universe was controlled by a superhuman power, like a god, but it was not referred to as a god.
Stoics ended up gaining significant political influence as many popular politicians grew up on stoic beliefs. Marcus Aurelius was a well known stoic.
Stoics believed that any human laws should be fair and just. This was the basis of many legal reforms that were later to come.
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Greek vs Roman
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